the morning becoming morning

the pink patch in the sky
as seen from the memphis train station
we watch the morning become morning

i never understood gravy and biscuits
jennifer says across from me

at memphis’s oldest diner – the arcade
while i spread the red blush of strawberry jam
across the carby buttery muffiny rounds

the warm spill of sun that brushes the brick buildings
while the neon restaurant sign’s arrow
click click click click clicks
as its green neon bands
travel the length of the arrow they make


we’ll have to play frogger to get there i say
about crossing the four lanes of graham
to get to the little free library and back


naming the shapes of the above-ground roots
of one of the ginormous trees in the park:
while all the uneaten food (acorns)
crunches under our feet
the bright red of max’s cape
matching the bright red of a.m.’s tights
out at the mailbox where the drop letters in
a.m. balancing max on her hip
in the sun

i am a biscuit! max announces/corrects
from the backseat in his car seat

ice cream doesn’t really blow my hair back
a.m. says in the crosstown arts building

as we make our way towards
isabel pushing safi’s stroller

at dinner we act out the funny charade
of pulling the lever on a.m.’s bulk bin
of pads and how i laugh, imagining them tumbling
a white snow
out and out and out

a.m. and i pretending the large-scale paintings at the gallery show
are actually portraits of people we know
oh – that’s shiz
that’s grant
that’s jennifer

down into the glitter of the windiest city

wildly waving out the train window
at the wisconsin river past the dells,
at the snowy woods,
at the ducks in the water
and the blue blue blue sky kissed with clouds
while the sun sings ki’s brightness down
on all of us

the tea and coffee bar
that ends up actually being a whiskey bar
and the blueberry lemonade i order there

isa cringing at my sequinned
rainbow tiger striped cap
it’s too much, with the pink she says
laughing while i’m laughing
in my hot pink hoodie

an early birthday gift i joke
about the pad see ew leftovers
i say i’ll give her
but that i never do
because of how we speedwalk and rush
to get to the station on time for our departure
on the city of new orleans train
to memphis tennessee

juniper and i staring out the train window
at the sliver of moon that lowers kirself
down into the glitter of the windiest city
in our sleeper car
i hug her calves
and drift off
to her reading book six of harry potter

rock-rolling to sleep
with a view out the window
of stars that follow us

the old eagle giveaway

New Berlin straddles the sub-continental divide which runs north-south through the eastern part of the city
she reads from wikipedia about the place i’m from
73% of the city’s total land area, is west of the Sub-Continental Divide in the Fox River watershed, which is part of the Mississippi River watershed. The remaining area is within the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River drainage basin.

do you need some eyedrops she asks
while i bat my lashes jokingly on the couch
i’m such a boy she says
misconstruing my eyelash batting for dry eyes
because you’re so meticulous rochelle says
about the extra ducats she hands me
for the three days of house-cleaning

slickness on the paving stones
and gravel drive – a solid slipperyness,
what remains of the other day’s melt

big bird i say might be a crow
but as ki looms closer,

it’s clear ki is larger than that –
white head and white tail giveaway
the old eagle giveaway
as seen through front window
which is the kind of thing that happens around here
which makes us lucky

cruise ship pro-tip

spoon-less spoon i call the big metal spoon
whose weld broke
thereby leaving only a handle
tucked in the back of the drawer
that also houses the can opener,
the garlic smoosher, the wire pastry cutter
and i ask is this something you need

what’s green and growing out there alyson asks
and all i see is moss on the hillside
sortof green but also kindof a dead yellow

all the light pouring into
the light-green-walled and light-blue-floored studio
on the 2nd floor that features
south-facing, north-facing and east-facing windows
the promenade tom says
his cruise ship pro-tip
that’s where you can get away
from all the people, that’s
where you can see all that water


the galloping
up and down the hallway
with little squeaks along the way
of lisi the gray cat
sometimes chasing
and sometimes being chased
what word is there
for licking the taste of a place
in other words, the last brown syrupy bits
of sorghum that i spatula from the jar
some that i lick and some that i
stir into the batch of granola
with the maple syrup and coconut oil

the smell of the granola i’ve been intending to make
for days now finally filling the kitchen
tonight alongside the mountains of dishes
from our day’s work of bottling apple cider vinegar
and grinding eggshells and
mixing up a batch of spoiled-cat cat food
and dinner dishes and

a futuristic sci-fi dystopian novel i say
about the coronavirus
leading to the stock market drop
and how this could be the beginning
of the unmendable unraveling



we’ll live our best lives ever

these are good old mushrooms
i say of the criminis (beginning to dry out)
that i cooked up
with the kale and onions and garlic
while larry meiller talks on npr
about how grateful he is
to be learning and meeting great people
on his radio show
which, if i remember correctly,
he’s been doing for 50 years
i’ll be by your side
i say
to abby whom i barely know
but this is one way i know
to support/offer allyship
the bluffs rising up
along the mississippi as seen
from the student union’s third floor
while abby says i like being from all over
me leaning on the hood
of david’s black car while he smokes
his cigarette in the parking structure
before he puts the butt out
in the little liquid left at the bottom
of the iced tea bottle
one thing i thought
i’d never get good at
is eating while driving
but look at me now
reaching into the hazelnut quadratini bag
while shifting from first to second to third
doing my best not to get crumbs everywhere
the made up song i start singing
at lisa’s dining room table
while lisa and jennifer each look something up
on their phones:
i once was hanging out with my friends
but then they got sucked sucked in in to to to their phones

juniper’s fingers
in my shoulder blades
along my neck
working to melt the pain
rubbing the cool blue feeling stuff in
how about i send you all the stars
and you send me all the bike lanes
and we’ll live our best lives ever i propose
to an urban dweller who longs for stars
from a rural dweller who misses bike lanes


like the sound of bones

two thirty a.m.
lisi the cat climbing all over me,
me a small mountain range
and he a gigantic lion
the kitchen a spill of window prism rainbows
in morning sun
juniper walks into
while i move from warrior two
to half moon

the pain in my knee
begging the bell to ring
(surely, it has been 50 minutes, no?)
and my deep breaths
quelling the pain in my knee
on the four mile loop walk,
we stop to talk to pine trees,
to listen to a singing bird perched on a snowbank,
to thank the blue shadows and crunchy shapes
in the snow pushed up to the edges of the road
soft with melt
i learned a new spanish word from gabi
for “skeleton”
she says calacas
like the sound of bones knocking against each other
dog paw prints as big as a palm
pressed into the blonde gravel
wet on this day of melting

the blue puffy jacket
gripped in my hand
on the final bend
where we are protected from the wind
with the sun at our backs

what we call pink birch branch hour
which really only lasts minutes
as the sun sinks
and how the blue of sky that the pink birch branches
glow against changes too


i sing the holy holy

how i sing the holy holy holy song
ever so quietly at the kitchen table
for larry, whose spirit has begun
the bridge-crossing
from this world to the next
to the plum
zoe titles her response poem to
wcw’s this is just to say
they will keep singing together for the rest of their lives

annie says about the groups of bulgarian women
that have been gathering together for years and years and years
to sing

you can see orion’s sword juniper says
of how clear these cold cold moonless nights have been

spoons in exile / the round rounding

the redbrown roiibos tea rings
at the bright white bottom of my favorite light mint green mug
sold on a porch by a local potter
it’s official
i say about the stork bite that’s still there
light pink where the hairline meets my neck

how we fill the yellow room
with our voices resounding
the round rounding in six parts
when we come into our calling
we become bells calling to everyone else
oh, come, come into your calling

how i look for the moon
when we enter the cemetary after dark
but the sky is just cloud
and the glow comes from everywhere
including the snow kirself
aloo gobi is how i say “i love you”
luica says about the meal she made
for búho alongside the squash curry
the secret front porch club i say
and the spoons in exile luica says
and it’s a cou de’tat mf’ers i say
while washing dishes at the small sink
how lisi the cat is more inclined
to eat the food from the spoon
rather than from his bowl
and how he digs the kitchen floor
as if in a litterbox
to cover it up when he is done
you can’t go on that cruise she says
about the alaska thing
if you are going to be quarantined

all the sunlight flooding

my migraine brain clouds so hard
that when someone names a friend
i can’t pull a person up in my mind to match that name
though i know it must be somebody i know
and when i try to add a date to my calendar
i can’t remember which icon on my phone
will take me there

all the sunlight
flooding the back bedroom
as i nap the ache away
and lisi the cat curled
in the nook my knees make
flash of red
a cardinal swooping across green acres road
at cotton-candy-dusk-sky time
as i drive down the snow-lined hill to town
annie poking her pointer finger
up into a hole in the back of matthew’s shirt
while we gather around the stage
where writers step up to read
the bright green of margaret’s sweater
aross the table from me

thank you for helping to make this place
feel more like home
i write

next to my signiature in tanja’s copy
of contours: a literary landscape

jo marie asks me
if i walk everyday and i challenge her
to read next time an invitation extends itself
as long as it’s not something that feels
like it might kill her


as we travel the ridgeline

the red shimmersheen
of the prickly pear chocolates
and the purple shimmersheen
of the lemon heart-shaped chocolates
in the bright sun spilling in
on this -10 degree day
the particular heartbreak
of the whine of cat outside the door
on a -10 degree day

the snow lining the roads pink from sunset
whose colors wrap 360 degrees around us
as we travel the ridgeline
to offerdahl road
and turn at the intersection that will always be remembered
as the place where we saw the fox that one night
(similar to the lemon cake turn on the ride home)
def leppard, motley crue playing on the community radio station
while i draw grids with a rule
marking out the days of each month
of the upcoming year